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Gap Years

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I'm currently sorting out my UCAS form but am stuck as to whether to apply for 2003 or 2004 ie. whether I'm going to take a gap year or not. I'm leaning towards going in 2003 now as it seems a bit late to organise something!

I would like to take a gap year to travel, but perhaps not when I finish school. Firstly there's nowhere I really desperately want to go at the moment. My parents want me to go on one of those gap challenge group things but the happy camper school group type thing is not really my cup of tea, even though my parents are willing to pay for all of it! Plus I'm quite eager to go to university as soon as possible!

I would love to travel independently but my parents don't want me going on my own, which I suppose is fair, and I should probably wait till I'm a bit more mature. None of my close friends seem to be particularly sorted either plus I think there'd be a bit of a conflict of interest.

I would love to take a gap year after university (where I intend to do a psychology degree), when I've got my studies out the way, am a little more mature, and perhaps will have met people who I might want to travel with.However my parents seem to think this will make getting a job and things when I get back difficult, and I was wondering whether having a break between uni and job-hunting is a bad idea?

It would be useful to hear from anyone who has taken gap years before or after university, and what they think the advantages and disadvantages are.
Thanks :)


  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    not of personal experience, but i know quite a few people who have taken a year off before their first year. they realize that they enjoy doing what they are and end up not ever going. I have known too many people who that has happened to to take the chance, but then on the other hand, if you are ABSOUTLY POSOTIVE that you will return to school, i say why not, don't let school hinder your learning.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I had one, and it was shit. I know several other people who said the same, and regretted taking one, and just ended up either signing on or doing shit jobs which they hated. If you have the money to go travelling then I imagine it would be good.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Good Gap years take organisation and savings, otherwise you will end up doing dull jobs and earning sod all. You have a year to organise one before 2003 so I don't see how it can be too late?

    Employers welcome people who have taken the initiative to do something interesting off their own back...be it volunteering on a conservation project or doing a TEFL. It also doesn't matter whether you do this before or after your degree, as it can be a welcome break on either end.

    Where you will run into trouble with employment is if you bum around on a beach for the whole year with nothing to show for it...you can do that for a few months but make sure you mix in a couple of worthwhile CV things too.

    Another option is to study abroad or travel over your summers.

    Loads of linkage for you:

    Gap year articles

    Study abroad

    volunteering overseas

    Read the above, contact some people and talk to a careers advisor and it should all start to make sense...

    Susie :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I plan to take a year or two out after uni when I graduate next year. The best plan is to get your education out of the way when you're young and presumably fresh from school. I think I'd lose motivation to go to uni having taken a year out right after I left school.

    You'll probably meet like-minded people at uni and possisbly travelling companions so wait and see. Besides, the time you spend at uni will go so fast you'll wonder where it all went. Trust me, I've been at uni 3 years with 1 to go and it scares me that I'll be finished soon.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru

    I'm entering my...ehm, third "gap year" now, before going to uni next autumn. And will definitely have another year or two off after undergraduate studies - travelling easily gets one hooked.

    Have been working abroad, travelling, working at home and in general learning quite a lot although not directly university related, I believe I'm far more mature now than I'd have been if entering university straight after secondary school.

    Being a native English speaker you could easily get a job abroad (www.eslcafe.com), or you could work at home saving up and have a great trip - it's generally easy to hook up with others along the road (www.globalfreeloaders.com being one way, another just sticking to standard backpacker's routes like the entire of South-East Asia) But letting your parents pay for you sounds a bit... well, let's just say I think you'll appreciate your experience more if you've earned it yourself.

    Think what I'm trying to say is there's no easy solution as to when is good - but I definitely regard these three years quite valuable in terms of learning. http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com is an excellent resource for learning of opportunities and hearing what others have done.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks Thalia that was really helpful. :)

    I've been looking at various gap year organisation web sites ove the past few days and there seem a couple of trips that I'm interested. One is helping poorer children at a kind of day centre doing a bit of teaching, art and crafts, sport and stuff in Peru (Gap Challenge) , for which they provide an intense Spanish Course. Another is english teaching in Thailand to 11-16 yr olds - this would mean getting a TEFL qualification (i-to-i organisation).

    These are volunteer expeditions as I am planning to work to raise most of the money before I go therefore I won't need to work when I'm there.

    I would like to go travelling after the 3 month placement, for example to Hong Kong. I am itereseted in the teaching in Thailand the most but I hear it is very 'backpacked orientated and commercialised' now? With that in mind, maybe Peru would be better.

    Has anyone used any reputable organisations that they could reccommend? So far from what I've seen, the Gap Challenge one looks the best. The Thailand trip is 'i-to-i' and it looks a bit dodgy cos you just pay for it straight over the internet with a creidt card withough any kind of application for it and barely any info apart from what's on the screen.

    Thanks x
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru

    I-to-I is dodgy from what I've heard. Also stay very clear of Humana People to People, they have about the worst reputation it's possible to get for a philantropic organisation.

    Check out http://bolt.icestorm.com/lyric and consider organising the whole thing on your own :-)
    Paying for volunteering is sort of dodgy in itself if you ask me - one thing is keeping own food and accommodation, but to actually pay any kind of fee to work for free is plain wrong.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I am currently on a gap year which was fully organised about two weeks ago (sadly, this is not a joke). Despite the fact that I got good grades, I was rejected from every university I applied to except one (did NOT want to go there - it was simply filling up space in my UCAS form). I thought I would go through clearing but no decent vacancies to read English, was hungover from the night before and didn't want to call all these places up, etc etc.

    A gap year can be thrown together at the last minute but it takes a lot of organisation - it really depends on where you want to go, ie abroad or not. Get a job until about January, because after that you will (probably) have earned enough money to survive for the rest of the year if you are travelling. Gap Activity Projects is very good - i to i isn't, in fact it's complete crap. It is completely possible to apply as late as October and still get a decent placement abroad, as it happens I am not doing this though I certainly researched it pretty thoroughly. I am volunteering in the Uk for four months with CSV ( a very good organisation) and then a language course for two months with CESA (again very good, quite expensive but pretty reasonable compared with the rest)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I applied for 2002 and have decided to go 2003 now. Its ok to do that just let the uni know later on.
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